Local group offers education and progress through comedy

Local group offers education and progress through comedy

Local group offers education and progress through comedy
February 11
00:29 2016

Victoria Monteros | Staff Writer

@ToriLaSuper

The organization Language of Laughter has dedicated itself to promoting literacy and helping kids across Denton.

The group was started in December when comedians Stu Hollowell, an English language arts senior, and UNT alumnus Shane Silagi decided to use their comedic talents beyond entertainment purposes. They reached out to kids ranging from ages 6-13 around Denton and started hosting comedy shows to raise funds.

“[Hollowell] is a dreamer,” Silagi said. “I was like, ‘Nah, it’s not going to happen.”

But Hollowell’s optimism fueled his persistence, and he insisted upon moving forward with the efforts. In December, Language of Laughter hosted a charity show dedicated to Toys for Tots that raised $400. Because of the show’s success, the pair decided to proceed with their efforts and aim toward education.

The organization’s inaugural charity showcase, which will be St. Patrick’s Day-themed, will be in March. Its goal is to raise at least $700 for Language of Laughter. After that, it plans to host an all-female comedian show, which will feature female comedians from both Dallas and Fort Worth.

“What’s great about all of this is that we’re putting on Denton entertainment to benefit Denton education,” Hollowell said. “It’s very Denton-based. We’re trying to give back to our community.”

English language arts senior Stu Hollowell and UNT Alumn Shane Silagi founded a nonprofit called Language of Laughter, a program dedicated to promoting literacy and helping kids across Denton. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

English senior Stu Hollowell, left, and UNT alumnus Shane Silagi founded a nonprofit called Language of Laughter, a program dedicated to promoting literacy and helping kids across Denton. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Currently, one of the group’s focuses is raising funds to purchase books for bilingual children, who Hollowell and Silagi said make up about 10.5 percent of the student population. These students are at the highest risk of falling behind because most schools don’t have a sufficient amount of bilingual books for them.

Provided the appropriate materials, bilingual students have a better chance at having home support and interaction with parents. Many of them speak Spanish only in their homes and may come from immigrant backgrounds.

With the acquisition of these books, parents can help promote literacy in the language they are most comfortable with while the child is still being helped out in the classroom. Silagi said he hopes the group’s efforts will help put education at the forefront of the minds of multilingual schools and educators.

“You have to start from the people who need it the most right now, and you have to focus on the kids who need help, and who aren’t getting it,” Silagi said.

Although Language of Laughter’s efforts are mainly directed toward the Denton community, Hollowell and Silagi plan to branch out in the future. One of the steps they have taken in order to expand their non-profit was applying to host a two-week summer camp in June for children at a recreational center in Keller.

At the camp, Hollowell and Silagi will sit down with the children who attend and help them write stories. By the end of the camp, they hope to be able to send the children home with their very own, self-published books, filled with original stories.

The group also hopes to provide test materials and even college textbooks. Another one of its goals is to raise money for a federal non-profit license. The cost to become a 501(c)(3) is $850. They are hoping to pay for this license with money raised from Kickstarter.

Both Silagi and Hollowell pride themselves in helping children succeed. For Hollowell, the experience that led to him becoming a comedian to being someone who gives back to society was a difficult one.

“[Comedy] was extremely therapeutic. That’s when I realized I needed it to be more than just a hobby,” Hollowell said. “Education is my passion, and comedy is my passion, and it’s nice that they can come together to do some good.”

Featured Image: English language arts senior Stu Hollowell and UNT Alumn Shane Silagi are trying to create a nonprofit called Language of Laughter, a program dedicated to promoting literacy and helping kids across Denton. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

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